Community Policing Evaluation


For the past decade, IPR researchers have been evaluating Chicago's Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), the nation's most ambitious experiment in community policing. CAPS was unveiled in April 1993 in five prototype police districts and went citywide a year later. Political scientist Wesley G. Skogan is leading an academic team from Northwestern, DePaul, Loyola, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, which is evaluating the planning, implementation, and impact of CAPS throughout the city. Project Clear (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) is working on a state-of-the-art integrated criminal justice information system. Working on this project are Susan Hartnett, research associate and project director, and Jill DuBois, project manager.

CAPS Latest Report

The newest report on policing in Chicago examines the effectiveness of community policing in reducing crime and solving neighborhood problems. The report: "CAPS at Ten: Community Policing in Chicago - An Evaluation of Chicago's Alternative Policing Strategy" (PDF) may be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat Reader.


From NIJ:

Community Policing and the New Immigrants: Latinos in Chicago

Taking Stock: Community Policing in Chicago

Problem Solving in Practice: Implementing Community Policing in Chicago

Public Involvement: Community Policing in Chicago


Policing Smarter through IT: Learning from Chicago’s Citizen and Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) System (complete text) (PDF)

Books on Chicago's Community Policing Experiment

Police and Community in Chicago (2006), by Wesley G. Skogan

On the Beat: Police and Community Problem Solving (1999), by IPR CAPS evaluation team

Community Policing, Chicago Style (1997), by Wesley G. Skogan and Susan Hartnett

Working Papers

CAPS number: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31]

IPR has published a series of papers (summarized below) that enlarge on many of the issues raised in the annual reports. Each of these papers may be downloaded from the links below. Printed copies may be ordered directly from the Publications Department, Institute for Policy Research, 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-4100, at a cost of $5.00 per paper. Checks should be made payable to Northwestern University. We only accept checks drawn on U.S. bank and payable in U.S. funds. The price includes shipping and handling.

Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 (or higher) is needed to read the Acrobat version. If you need a copy of the Acrobat Reader installer, click the button below. When the installer file has been downloaded, run the installer to put the Reader on your hard drive.

(CAPS-1): The Public and the Police in the City of Chicago

By Tabatha R. Johnson

This paper describes in detail findings from the Spring 1993 citywide resident survey. It examines citizens' assessments of the police and the impact of variables such as race, class, gender, and experiences with the police. The report suggests that each of these factors has an important effect on how citizens evaluate police performance and activities.

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(CAPS-2): Winning the Hearts and Minds of Police Officers: An Assessment of Staff Perceptions of Community Policing in Chicago

By Arthur J. Lurigio and Wesley G. Skogan

Findings from the 1993 police officer survey are described in detail. Before the CAPS program began, officers were surveyed about their job satisfaction, their supervisors, and their opinions regarding community policing. Results show they supported some of CAPS-related activities, but not others.

(CAPS-3): Partnerships for Prevention? Some Obstacles to Police-Community Cooperation

By Wesley G. Skogan

This paper examines one aspect of the crime prevention equation, the ability of the police and community members to develop cooperative relationships that focus on problem solving. The data are drawn from the on-going study of Chicago's adoption of a community policing model . The report examines structural changes made by the Chicago Police Department to encourage the formation of a partnership, as well as launching a massive training effort to ensure that officers and their immediate supervisors understand the new roles and responsibilities they are being called upon to adopt.

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(CAPS-4): Community Participation and Community Policing

By Wesley G. Skogan

This report focuses on the role of the public in community policing. To gauge public opinion on the eve of the new program, survey interviews were conducted with residents of the areas selected to receive community policing and matched neighborhoods that served as comparison areas for the evaluation. The report focuses on program awareness and program participation of residents.

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(CAPS-5): Spring 1994 Supervisor Training Evaluation Report

By Arthur G. Lurigio, Sheila Houmes, and Sigurlina Davidsdottir

This paper describes an evaluation of CAPS training for supervisory staff. The training was conducted during the spring of 1994. The evaluation team examined the nature of the training sessions and the performance of the trainers; the background of the training participants and their attitudes toward their jobs, citizens, and CAPS; as well as participants' reactions to the training. Many recommendations for future training are included.

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(CAPS-6): Preparing Police Officers for Community Policing: An Evaluation of Training for Chicago's Alternative Policing Strategy

By Gail Dantzker, Arthur J. Lurigio, Susan M. Hartnett, Sigurlina Davidsdottir, Kristin Donovan,and Sheila Houmes

Findings of a process evaluation of CAPS training for police officers are presented. The study's approach and instrumentation were adopted from the field of adult education and involved observation and ratings of trainee and trainer behaviors. Additional personal interviews were conducted with sergeants, lieutenants, and trainers. The paper concludes with recommendations on how to implement training for community policing.

(CAPS-7): Evaluation Design and Survey Methods Report

By Wesley G. Skogan

This paper describes in detail the methods for the citizen survey conducted in the areas selected to receive community policing and the matched neighborhoods that served as comparison areas for the evaluation. Research design, sample surveys, and survey weighting are given thorough attention. It also discusses the overall design of the CAPS evaluation, including the selection of control areas of the city.

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(CAPS-8): An Analysis of Beat Meeting Participation and Activity

By Scott Althaus

This report evaluates the success of beat meetings that were held in the five areas selected to receive community policing from late April 1993, when the program began, through August 1994. Researchers examined beat meeting attendance, the beat meeting process, and the content and structure of beat meetings. Two major questions were whether the beat meetings were evolving toward a community policing model and whether all the interests and immediate problems of the community, as well as the community resources, were represented at these meetings.

(CAPS-9): District Advisory Committees: The Prototype Experience

By Jill DuBois

This paper offers a thorough discussion of the District Advisory Committee meetings in each of the five areas initially selected to receive community policing. These committees were mandated by City Hall and were to be comprised of a representative group of people from the district who could guide the district commander to work on priority problems in the district. A full description of each committee is discussed followed by a recommendation section on the key elements that pointed to the more or less successful committees.

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(CAPS-10): Partnerships in Action

By Dominique Whelan

Several case studies of problem solving in the areas selected to receive community policing are examined. These represent police and citizen problem-solving initiatives at the grassroots level. Each case study used a variety of data including personal interviews with key informants, observations of neighborhood meetings and court cases, observations of the area under study, and newspaper and other media sources. Both a description and an analysis of the problem-solving process is presented.

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(CAPS-11): Community Organization Survey Methods Report

By Justine H. Lovig and Robert VanStedum

This is a survey methodological report on our Community Organization study. Data were gathered on hundreds of community organizations in the areas selected to receive community policing. The paper reports in detail about the sample, procedures employed, research questions, instrument development, data collection, coding, and analysis. A copy of the instrument is included.

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(CAPS-12): Community Organization Study

By Justine H. Lovig and Wesley G. Skogan

One goal of the study was to determine the degree to which community organizations in the prototype areas were involved in CAPS during its first year of implementation. Based on survey interviews with hundreds of organizational informants, this paper examines the roles their organizations played in the community policing program. The survey was designed to elicit the differences in CAPS involvement between various types of organizations, and between the areas of study. The report documents how the organizations mobilized to influence the shape of community policing in their districts.

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(CAPS-13): 1995 CAPS Training Evaluation Report

By Marianne Kaiser

This paper describes an evaluation of CAPS training for police officers. The purpose of the training was to teach them about their changing roles and responsibilities under CAPS, with an emphasis on learning the skills needed to be an effective team member. The evaluation team employed three different methods to examine the nature of training and the performance of the trainers. The methods included observation of training, police questionnaires, and personal interviews conducted with samples of trainees, trainers, and supervisors. The report concludes with a set of recommendations based on the evaluation.

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(CAPS-14): 1995 Joint Community-Police Training: Interim Report

By Marianne Kaiser

This paper describes an evaluation of the Joint Community-Police Training (JCPT) program conducted by the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety (CANS) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) for Chicago residents. This is the first large-scale attempt in the country to train neighborhood residents to work together with the police to solve crime and disorder problems in their neighborhoods. The goal of the training is to produce better informed and more organized citizens and, as a result, safer neighborhoods. Research methods included observation of the curriculum development, observation of training sessions, resident questionnaires, and personal interviews with the trainers. The report fully discusses the process of implementation and concludes with a comprehensive list of recommendations.

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Click here to see Table 1a (PDF) PDF icon

Click here to see Table 6 (PDF) PDF icon

(CAPS-16): 1996 Beat Meeting and Citizen Training Participant Study

By Justine H. Lovig, Jinney Smith and Wesley G. Skogan

Citizen involvement in neighborhood problem solving is a fundamental part of Chicago's community policing program. During 1996 we condudcted a survey of two groups of citizens to gauge the extent of their involvement in problem solving efforts. We surveyed particpants in the city's beat community meetings, and those attending training sessions designed to enhance the public's role in problem solving. This paper presents a detailed description of the methodology employed in those two studies, and a full set of survey questionnaires.

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(CAPS-17): Evaluating Problem-Solving Policing: The Chicago Experience

By Wesley G. Skogan

This conference paper describes the evaluation of a community policing program in Chicago. There is a great deal of interest in systematically assessing how well community policing programs work. A thorough assessment of a new program generally calls for two kinds of evaluations. Process evaluations examine program design and implementation, and detail both the program's "theory" (how was it supposed to have an impact on crime) and its actual implementation (whether or not the police actually adopted different practices). Impact evaluations analyze the effect that the program had on the problems that it targeted. The Chicago study was both a process and impact evaluation, but this paper focuses on what we found about the impact of the program on the lives of the city's residents. The first section describes the program and the evaluation. The next documents the analytic approach that was adopted that enables us to assess the impact of community policing in five city neighborhoods. The third section presents what we found about the impact of the program. It looks at the impact of community policing on a variety of community problems, and illustrates how different ways of measuring those problems pointed to the same conclusions. The next section deals with geographic displacement; it examines whether crimes were actually prevented, or if they just shifted to another nearby locale. The final section summarizes the findings, and comments on the general features of evaluation projects.

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(CAPS-18): Measuring What Matters: Crime, Disorder, and Fear

By Wesley G. Skogan

This paper considers two issues: measuring the possible effects of an innovative policing program, and doing so in a framework that could support the inference that the program caused variations that the measurements might reveal. Measurement involves the collection of data that represent -- sometimes only indirectly -- the problems that are targets of programs. These are the "outcome" measures, and it is vital that they represent as accurately as possible the scope of a program's intentions. The framework within which these data are collected is evaluation's research design, and it is crucial that the design account for as many alternative explanations for what is measured as is possible under the circumstances. Arguing that "the program made a difference" over the past month or year involves systematically discounting the potential influence of other factors that might account for changes in the measures, through the use of randomization, matched control groups or time series, and other design strategies. This essay focuses on measurement issues, but it bridges to design issues through some concrete examples of how measures have been used to make judgments about the impact of programs. It examines in sequence some of the experience of the evaluation community in taking the vital signs of a community via measures of crime, disorder, and fear.

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(CAPS-19): The Super Block Project

By Raj C. Udeshi

This paper reports on a dynamic project aimed at improving the quality of life for residents of one of Chicago's neediest blocks. The idea was conceived by a police commander who believed that utilizing the abundant human resources of the people living there, as well as those available through city and private agencies, would go a long way toward effecting real change. The report provides a synopsis of the planning and implementation period, successes and obstacles, and implications for future application of the concept.

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(CAPS-20): Institute for Public Safety Partnerships: A First Year Evaluation

By Jennifer Comey and Marianne Kaiser

This paper evaluates the first year of the new Institute for Public Safety Partnerships (IPSP). The Institute is one of 35 regional community policing institutes funded recently by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). IPSP was established as a partnership between the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety (CANS), and a number of police and sheriffs' departments in Illinois. The purpose of IPSP is to provide basic and advanced community-policing training and technical assistance, to advance the state of the art in community-policing education and training, and to advance the application of new and different training and technical assistance delivery systems in small and mid-sized towns throughout Illinois. The report looks in-depth at the development of the Institute and the community-policing curriculum, as well as evaluates the training conducted in six Illinois sites. The report provides trainees' opinions of the training and evaluators recommendations for the Institute's second year of operations.

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(CAPS-21): 1998 Citywide Beat Meeting Observation Methodology Report

By Joel F. Knutson and Wesley G. Skogan

This paper provides documentation for a field observation study of beat community meetings in Chicago. Beat meetings are one of the cornerstones of Chicago's community policing program. The city has 25 police districts, and they in turn are divided into 279 small police beats. Teams of 8-10 officers from all watches are assigned to each beat, where they work under the supervision of a beat team sergeant. Chicago's program features regular meetings between these officers and residents of the beats they serve. These beat community meetings are to provide a venue for identifying and prioritizing local problems through a dialog between police and residents that is informed by the regular distribution of crime and arrest information. Residents and police are also supposed to discuss solutions to the problems that are identified at the meetings, and divide the responsibility for specific problem-solving efforts between police, residents and municipal service agencies. Most beats meet monthly, and-- except in December--the city held between 225 and 268 beat meetings each month during 1998. Based on department records, 25 residents attended the average beat meeting during 1998, along with about seven police officers. During 1998, more than 67,000 residents attended beat meetings in their neighborhood.

During 1998, a team of field researchers from the Institute for Policy Research attended 454 beat meetings throughout the city. They recorded what took place at each meeting on lengthy observation forms, and they distributed questionnaires to residents and police who were present. This paper describes the project in detail, and includes as appendices all of the observation forms and survey questionnaires that were employed in the study. Analyses of the data can be found in the forthcoming 1999 report, Community Policing in Chicago, Years Five-Six, which is available on request from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 1016, Chicago IL 60606.

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(CAPS-22): CAPS Evaluation Officer Surveys Data Documentation

By Wesley G. Skogan

This report provides a brief description of all of the police surveys conducted by the evaluation group between 1993 and 1999. It indicates the number of officers surveyed in each study and provides a brief summary of the major issues touched on in the questionnaires and the demographic measures that were included. Publications that have used these data are cited. All of the data will be available from the Criminal Justice Data Archive at the University of Michigan in 2000.

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(CAPS-23): CAPS Citywide Resident Survey Documentation

By Wesley G. Skogan

This report provides documentation for all of the citywide resident surveys conducted by the evaluation group between 1993 and 1999. It includes reproductions of all of the survey questionnaires. The data will be available from the Criminal Justice Data Archive at the University of Michigan in 2000.

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(CAPS-24): Community Mobilization for Community Policing

By J. Erik Gudell and Wesley G. Skogan

This report describes an experiment in Chicago aimed at creating community capacity for self help in neighborhoods where that had been lost. Beginning in 1998, the city deployed a cadre of organizers charged with rebuilding the capacity of some of its most troubled communities. Some worked directly under the supervision of the city while others were on the staff of neighborhood organizations. The evaluation described in this report began at about the same time. Evaluation staff interviewed the participants and monitored the activities of the organizers as they worked in selected beats. A survey was conducted to profile conditions in the beats that were first involved in the program, and a few were re-surveyed to monitor changes that may have taken place there over time. This report summarizes the researchers' conclusions about a number of the issues the evaluation addressed. These included: What do community organizers do to build community capacity? What were the impediments to their organizing efforts? What projects did they succeed in bringing to fruition? And were there any changes in neighborhood conditions that might be tied to their efforts?

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(CAPS-25): The 2002 Problem Solving Study

By Jason Bennis, Lynn Steiner and Wesley G. Skogan

This paper documents a field study that produced an independent assessment of the success of Chicago police in solving problems. Problem solving is one of the key components of CAPS, the city's community policing program. Police and neighborhood residents were trained to tackle these problems using a five-step process, and the department's new information systems produce data for planning and evaluating their efforts. This study focused on the most commonly identified priority beat problems. Interviews, field observations, and archival data were examined to (a) reconstruct what actions police and residents took at each site, and to (b) assess the success of their problem-solving efforts, on several dimensions. The research was completed in 68 sample beats. A total of 142 interviews were conducted with police officers and 136 with informed residents. A total of 419 forms that systematically assessed the extent of problems and police or resident crime prevention efforts were completed. The observers themselves inspected the problem sites on 428 occasions, spending a total of 569 hours observing events and conditions there. The fieldwork component of the study was supplemented by statistical analyses of quantitative time series data on crime and calls for service. This aspect of the study is described in the forthcoming CAPS-27.

The paper includes all of the observation forms and survey questionnaires used in the study.

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(CAPS-26): The 2002 Beat Meeting Observation Study

By Jason Bennis, Wesley G. Skogan and Lynn Steiner

This paper documents a 2002 study of the effectiveness of Chicago's beat meetings. Beat meetings are one of the most distinctive features of the city's community policing program. They are monthly gatherings of small groups of residents and officers working in the area. In the city's plan, beat meetings are to be the principal mechanism for building and sustaining close relationships between police and the general public. The 2002 beat meeting study assessed the extent to which beat meetings are meeting their goals. Observers attended beat meetings to make note of what happened there and to survey residents and police who attended. A total of 291 observations were conducted in 130 sample beats, and 3,706 residents and 643 police officers were surveyed.

The paper includes all of the observation forms and survey questionnaires used in the study.

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(CAPS-27): Statistical Analysis of Timeseries Data on Problem Solving

By So Young Kim and Wesley G. Skogan

During the summer of 2002, the CAPS evaluation team conducted a study examining how Chicago police tackle neighborhood problems. The study focused on the problems most often identified by the police as local priorities. The findings of the study can be found in the main project report: Community Policing in Chicago, Years Eight and Nine (PDF).

The fieldwork component of the study was supplemented by statistical analyses of quantitative time series data on crime and 911 calls. This paper describes in detail the research design and statistical methods that were employed for the study. Time series trends in appropriate categories of calls for service and recorded crime data were created for each problem site. Comparable time series data were assembled for matched sets of beats in which the sample problem was not identified as a priority. Crime data were aggregated from information on 3.9 million individual crime incidents. 911 call data were aggregated from 23.4 million calls to the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. There is an extensive discussion of the use of Box-Jenkins Intervention Analysis to distinguish between gradual and immediate changes in crime, whether those changes were temporary or permanent in nature, and whether trends in the study beats were unique or matched trends in similar areas of the city.

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(CAPS-28): The Fall 2003 Police Information Technology Adoption Survey

By Wesley G. Skogan and Susan M. Hartnett

This paper documents the methodology used in a telephone survey of Chicago suburban police departments which was conducted during October and November 2003. The study had two purposes. The first was to describe the scope of agency utilization of the data warehouse, which is an information repository developed by the Chicago police department to produce a variety of relational reports using modern, flexible database query software. The second purpose of the study was to explain variations in the timing and extent of data warehouse use. The paper covers questionnaire development, interviewer recruitment and training, samples and completion rates, data organization and reliability, and learning experiences from the field. Two hundred seventy-five interviews were completed at 142 Chicago suburban police agencies. One hundred forty-one interviews were conducted with a primary respondent and 134 interviews were conducted with a secondary respondent at the agencies. The paper includes the two survey instruments.     

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(CAPS-29): The Diffusion of Information Technology in Policing

By Wesley G. Skogan and Susan M. Hartnett

This study examines the diffusion of innovation among municipal police departments in Northeastern Illinois. The opportunity to adopt an innovation arose when the Chicago Police Department (CPD) opened access to elements of its new centralized Data Warehouse to other criminal justice agencies. There is a long history of research on the diffusion of innovation, and a number of recent projects have applied this work to policing. Like innovation studies generally, this article presents the shape of the diffusion curve that describes the pace of adoption, and it examines factors associated with adoption and the extent to which the innovation was actually used. Adoption and extent of utilization proved to be largely independent processes. Involvement in cosmopolitan networks, experience with using databases for law enforcement, and the human capital capacities of the organizations influenced the adoption decision, while organizational resources and experience in using the system drove the level of actual use. The rapid growth of system utilization was apparently due to three factors: the active role played by the “evangelist” representing the host department; the fact that access to the system was free; and because it primarily empowered detectives – who enjoy a privileged position in policing – and did not challenge the traditional mission and organization of participating agencies.

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(Caps-30): Community Policing

By Wesley G. Skogan

Community policing is very popular, so much so that few police chiefs want to be caught without some program they can call community policing. In a 1997 survey of police departments conducted by the Police Foundation, 85 percent reported they had adopted community policing or were in the process of doing so. What do cities that claim they are “doing community policing” actually do? This paper goes beyond describing the long list of projects they report, to examine the fundamentals of community policing. At root, community policing involves changing decision-making processes and creating new cultures within police departments. It is an organizational strategy that leaves setting priorities and the means of achieving them largely to residents and the police who serve in their neighborhoods. It has three core elements: citizen involvement, problem solving, and decentralization, although in practice these three dimensions turn out to be densely interrelated, and departments that shortchange one or more of them will not field a very effective program. The paper reviews those three core concepts, describes how they have been turned into concrete community policing programs, and reports some of what we know about their effectiveness. It summarizes some of the claims made for community policing, and some of the realities of achieving them in the real world.

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(Caps-31): 2001 and 2003 CAPS Evaluation Citywide Survey Documentation

By Wesley G. Skogan

This report documents two citywide sample surveys conducted as part of an evaluation of Chicago’s community policing program, known as “CAPS.” The surveys assessed public perceptions of the quality of police service, their encounters with the police, fear of crime, reports of neighborhood conditions, and awareness and involvement in the city’s policing program. The surveys were conducted by telephone in English and Spanish, using random-digit-dialing samples. Questionnaire responses were used to geocode respondents into police districts and police beats. There were 2,485 completed interviews in 2001, and 3,141 completed interviews in 2004. The surveys were conducted by the Survey Research Laboratory of the University of Illinois-Chicago. This report presents English and Spanish-language versions of the survey questionnaires. A detailed methodological report for each study is presented following the questionnaires.

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For more information on Chicago's community policing initiative, click on Community Policing.